Does anyone keep telling you to “clear your browser cache”? It is an important diagnosis when you have problems with a website. But what does it really mean to clear your browser’s cache and how does it do that for your specific browser?
How to Clear Browser Cache
Every time you visit a website, your web browser stores some information from that site on the hard drive of your computer in something called a “browser cache.” This is a good thing most of the time, because it helps speed up your web browsing experience by avoiding the need to access the same static resources over and over again when visiting a web page.
For example, the logo of a website is unlikely to change. It is therefore a good idea to store this logo locally in your browser’s cache instead of letting your browser download the logo each time you visit a new page. But sometimes this cache can actually cause problems for your browsing experience. This is when you need to clear your browser’s cache.
In this entry, we’ll give you a brief introduction to the times when you might need to clear your browser cache. Then, we’ll show you how to clear most major browsers from the browser cache. If you want to quickly skip to the “how” button, you can click one of the links below, otherwise we’ll start at the beginning.
Why Do You Need to Clear Your Browser Cache?
Most of the time – you never note the caching of your browsers. It runs completely behind the scenes and doesn’t usually affect your browsing experience. But … things can sometimes go wrong.
For example, you can make a change to your site… but you can’t see that change because your browser is still serving the cached version of that resource. Or, the cache might have been corrupted and is actually interfering with the proper functioning of a web page.
For those reasons, a good first step when you encounter a problem on your own site (or someone else’s) is to clear your browser’s cache. It won’t always fix the problem, but it’s an important diagnostic first step to rule out before assuming that a more complicated problem is causing problems.
You would be surprised how often you think a “great” website bug is in fact just a cache problem that disappears when your browser cache is clear.
How to Force Refresh a Single Page
Before going straight to clearing the entire browser cache, one trick you can try is something called “forced refresh.” Typically, when you refresh a page, your browser still serves the cached version of the page, instead of downloading all assets again. But you can actually skip the cache and force a full update using some simple hotkeys:
- Windows and Linux browsers: CTRL + F5
- Apple Safari: SHIFT + Reload toolbar button
- Chrome and Firefox for Mac: CMD + SHIFT + R
Again, this method only bypasses the cache for the specific page that you’re on. It leaves the rest of your browser cache untouched. Therefore, this option is great if you’re experiencing issues with just a single page. But if you want to completely reset your experience (say, across an entire site), you’re better off just clearing your entire browser cache.
How to Clear Browser Cache for Google Chrome
To clear the browser cache for Google Chrome, get started by clicking the Three Dots icon in the top right of your browser window. Then, find the More Tools option and select Clear browsing data… from the submenu:
Alternatively, you can also use the hotkey combination: CTRL + SHIFT + DELETE. Chrome will open a new tab with a popup window titled Clear Browsing Data. Make sure that only the Cached files and images box is checked. Otherwise, you could accidentally erase your browsing history, saved passwords, cookies and more:
You can also change your time schedule on the top, although the default is usually 4 weeks. To clear your cache, then press the Clear Data browsing button. Your Chrome browser cache is empty now.
How to Clear Browser Cache for Mozilla Firefox
To clear the Mozilla Firefox browser cache, start by clicking the Hamburger icon in the top right and selecting History:
Then, in the menu that appears next, select Clear Recent History.
You can also access the menu using the shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + DELETE. Firefox will open a popup window. In the time range to delete: drop-down, select All. Then just check the Cache box to avoid deleting important browsing data. Then click Clear Now to clear the cache:
And that’s it! Your Firefox browser cache is now empty.
How to Clear Browser Cache for Safari
To clear the browser cache for Safari, you have two options. If you’re ok with clearing your entire browsing history (including cookies and visited pages), you can take the easy approach and just go to Safari → Clear History:
Again, this method is based on a scorched earth approach. In addition to your browser’s cache memory, it will also erase your browsing history, cookies, etc. To empty only the Safari browser cache, you will need to enable the Develop menu by going to Advanced Preferences, Advanced, and then clicking the Show Develop menu in the menu bar:
Then, you can go to Develop → Empty Caches to clear Safari’s browser cache:
How to Clear Browser Cache for Internet Explorer
To clear the browser cache for Internet Explorer, get started by clicking the Gear icon in the top right to access the Tools menu. Then, find Safety and select Delete Browsing History…from the submenu:
You can also access the menu by using the shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + DEL. Internet Explorer will open a popup. Make sure to only select the Temporary Internet files and website files box to avoid clearing important information. Then, click the Delete button at the bottom:
And your Internet Explorer browser cache is clear!
How to Clear Browser Cache for Microsoft Edge
To clear the browser cache for Microsoft Edge, click the Three Dots icon in the top right of your browser window.
Scroll down and click on Choose what to clear.
Make sure to only select the Cached data and files box to avoid clearing important information. You can also access the menu by using the shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + DEL. Then, click the Clear button at the bottom.
To clear the browser cache for Opera, click the Opera icon in the top left, find the More Tools option, and select Clear browsing data from the submenu:
For most cases, you should set Obliterate the following items from: equal to at least the last 4 weeks. Then, make sure to only check the Cached images and files box and then click the Clear browsing data button:
Your Opera browser cache is now empty.